International Ban Asbestos Secretariat

International Ban Asbestos Secretariat



News text:

Oct 21, 2016

At a meeting in Kathmandu today (October 21, 2016), the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED) launched a new publication – The National Asbestos Profile of Nepal – which is intended to progress work on ensuring safer working and living conditions in a country which has banned the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products (with one exemption). Attending the session were guests and delegations from the government and private sector, including personnel from the Ministry of Population and Environment, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Ministry of Finance. See: CEPHED Press Release.

Oct 21, 2016

Russia’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alexander Karchava publicly challenged plans to outlaw white asbestos at a meeting earlier this month, during which he called on stakeholders including members of the Sri Lanka-Russia Business Council to exert pressure on politicians to safeguard the interests of Russia’s asbestos industry by preserving the status quo. The Ambassador said he had discussed this issue with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in meetings which “bore positive results.” Karchava offered to bring experts to Sri Lanka “to educate the people on the safe use of chrysotile asbestos.” See: Russian experts ready to educate Lankans on safe use of chrysotile asbestos: envoy.

Oct 20, 2016

An alert has been raised this week over the import to the UK of thermos flasks manufactured in China. Some batches of model number 0-57024 of the “thermate,” brand of 1.3 litre stainless steel vacuum jug flasks contain asbestos fibers. The importer has recalled these products which contravene EU REACH regulations. Other imports from China are also being investigated by the HSE due to questions regarding their contamination by asbestos; the suspect goods are asbestos-containing building materials for construction projects in London which have been imported by Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd. (See HSE letter). See: Thermate Thermos Flask Recalled as they contain ASBESTOS fibres (which are Carcinogenic).

Oct 19, 2016

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), which collects data on global asbestos consumption and production, has uploaded provisional figures detailing production in 2015 (which appear very similar to the figures from 2014): Russia 1,100,000t (tonnes), China 400,000t, Brazil 311,000t and Kazakhstan 215,000t. Provisional total global production for 2015 was 2,030,000t. The final 2015 consumption figures should be available from the USGS in early 2017. See: Asbestos Statistics and Information.

Oct 19, 2016

In the aftermath of the earthquake which hit central Italy in August, 2016, investigations have been progressing regarding the public health hazard posed by the liberation of asbestos fibers during the disaster. “The earthquake, at worst, produced a pulverization of asbestos cement, contaminating the environment and water. Fibers may also be dispersed from the debris.” Under orders issued by chief prosecutor Michele Renzo, police in the investigative unit were designated to accumulate evidence about the current situation including the risks to emergency personnel as well as to local people. See: Sotto il terremoto, l’amianto [Under the earthquake, asbestos].

Oct 17, 2016

As the number of cases of mesothelioma in Korea continues to rise, research has been undertaken to identify geographical locations with high levels of contamination caused either by naturally occurring materials or the processing and/or the manufacture of asbestos-containing products. Asbestos hotspots were identified in Chungnam, Gyeonggi, Busan, Gyeongnam, Gyeonggi and Daejeon. The information on environmental asbestos exposures will, say the authors of this paper, be useful for establishing individual causal relationships as well as medical treatment plans. See: Environmental asbestos exposure sources in Korea.

Oct 17, 2016

In the Netherlands, a country of 17 million people, since 2005 five hundred people have been diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. The number of those affected doubled between the early 1980s and 2005. The majority of patients are males over 65 years old, most of whom die within a year. These and other statistics have been reported in a publication by the Netherlands Institute for Asbestos Victims (Instituut Asbestslachtoffers-IAS). See: Pays-Bas: environ 500 cas de mésothéliome chaque année [Netherlands: 500 cases of mesothelioma each year]. (On this same page see also the referenced link to: L’amiante n’est pas un problème du passé [Asbestos is not a problem of the past].)

Oct 17, 2016

A report commissioned by the City Council of Toledo has estimated that the eradication of toxic asbestos waste created by the operations of Ibertubo – a former manufacturer of asbestos building products – in and around the residential area of Santa Maria de Benquerencia could cost nearly €11 million. It has been estimated that the volume of waste to be removed constitutes at least 3,000 truckloads of hazardous material. Any actions taken will need to be approved by principal stakeholders including the authorities at City Hall. See: Tratar las 90.000 toneladas de amianto de Toledo costará más de 10 millones de euros [Remediating 90,000 tons of asbestos in Toledo will cost more than 10 million euros].

Oct 13, 2016

Zimbabwe's newly formed Labour Party (ZsLP) has committed itself to taking a proactive approach to the asbestos hazard, according to comments reported in an article uploaded on October 11, 2016. Zimbabwe, previously a major global asbestos producer, has played a crucial role in promoting industry’s “controlled use” argument to international agencies and organizations. Citing evidence which showed the Zimbabwe government knew of the risk asbestos posed to workers and the public, the ZsLP spokesman said a ZsLP government would ban asbestos and provide asbestos medical check-ups. See: Why There Is Need To Rebuild Housing For The African Zimbabwean.

Oct 13, 2016

The fulfilment of a government pledge to remove all asbestos roofing in Rwanda by 2016 has run into delays due to the wide prevalence of toxic roofing and the high cost of removal work. Gisele Ihozo, coordinator of the asbestos eradication project at Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), told reporters that it is likely the deadline will have to be extended to allow the removal of asbestos roofing on public and private buildings. The RHA is proposing the adoption of a centralized multimillion dollar remediation program to accomplish the eradication of this toxic substance. See: Govt mulls extension of deadline to rid country of asbestos roofing.

Oct 13, 2016

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s most widely read newspaper, published an editorial yesterday condemning the Prime Minister’s failure to make good on a pledge to ban asbestos, claiming that: “no sensible person can argue against making decisions based on the best available scientific evidence…” A plethora of data on the impact of asbestos use was cited in an article published on October 11, 2016 headlined: Liberals under fire for delay on asbestos ban. Calculations show high levels of asbestos cancer, huge healthcare costs and widespread contamination in Canada. See: What happened to Justin Trudeau’s promise to ban asbestos?.

Oct 1, 2016

Today, October 1, 2016, the New Zealand ban on the import of asbestos-containing materials has come into effect. One hundred and seventy asbestos deaths occur in New Zealand every year and that number is predicted to keeping rising until 2040. New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries in the Pacific region to have banned asbestos; the total number of countries worldwide which have done so now stands at 58. Concerns are high over the toxic effects of asbestos use in other Pacific countries which say they are unable to protect their populations from harmful exposures. See: Concerns over flow of asbestos into Pacific as New Zealand's import ban comes into effect.

Sep 30, 2016

Asbestos waste stockpiled in deteriorating containers at a site at La Collette, Jersey has been a problem for several years. A consultation has now been launched on proposals which may finally pave the way for a permanent resolution of this issue by making provisions for the long-term disposal of this toxic material. Submissions regarding proposals should be emailed by October 25, 2016 to Dr T du Feu, Director of Environmental Protection, Department of the Environment (envprotection@gov.je). More information can be found on the Jersey Government website. For report see: La Collette may store asbestos permanently.

Sep 30, 2016

On September 29, 2016, dozens of schoolchildren and their parents took part in a protest over asbestos roofing at the Vasco Nunez de Balboa primary school in Benidorm. The dilapidated and leaking asbestos-cement corrugated roof was installed 41 years ago and, say the parents, constitutes a health risk to the schoolchildren and staff. Parents say calls for urgent remediation and repair work to the school have repeatedly been ignored by the authorities including the Ministry of Education and the City Council. See: Clamor contra el amianto en el Vasco [Outcry against asbestos at Vasco school].

Sep 30, 2016

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection issued a notice on September 16, 2016 clarifying the assurances required from importers and licensed customs brokers by the Australian Border Force (ABF) which prove that imported goods do not contain asbestos. Sampling and testing of goods by an accredited Australian laboratory is preferred as certification of samples tested outside of Australia will only be accepted if the lab is accredited by international accreditation authorities (that are National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) recognised equivalents). See: Assurances that imported goods do not contain asbestos.

Sep 29, 2016

Radio reports regarding the presence of asbestos-containing roofing products at the Prince Wellington Ngu hospital in Tonga have been broadcast. John Lee Taione, the Chief Medical Superintendent, has said there is evidence that children are being affected by exposure to asbestos from the leaking roof after heavy rain. Specialist contractors will remove the roof and other asbestos products in the hospital next month (October 2016). Unless provisions can be made to safeguard patients from toxic exposures during the work, doctors may need to treat patients at their homes. See: Children in Tongan hospital inhaling asbestos.

Oct 20, 2016

A coalition of Indian and international groups representing asbestos victims, campaigners, environmentalists and health and safety activists from Asia and Europe have today uploaded a devastating report highlighting the toxic environmental legacy left by European asbestos multinationals in rural India. “The dumping of asbestos waste” by Turner & Newall and Etex was, said Barrister Krishnendu Mukherjee, “done in the full knowledge that it would cause serious health problems to the local population. Such behaviour towards mainly poor people, without real access to legal remedies, can only be described as a corporate crime.” [Read full article]

Oct 20, 2016

The toxic legacy left in rural India by European asbestos companies including Britain’s Turner & Newall Ltd. and Belgium’s Etex continues to endanger the lives of thousands of citizens in towns such as Kymore in the state of Madhya Pradesh according to a report uploaded today by civil society groups in India and abroad. Evidence collected by a team of Canadian technical experts documented nearly 600,000 square metres of toxic waste, which would cost up to $88m to make safe. The waste, which is composed of up to 70% asbestos fibers, poses a known public health hazard about which nothing has been done by the polluting enterprises which created it. [Read full article]

Sep 19, 2016

On September 10, 2016, the world came to Casale Monferrato, a small Piemonte town which has become a symbol of the global struggle against asbestos tyranny. On a day of celebration and remembrance, the community marked a new future with the inauguration of the EterNOT park built on the former site of the notorious Eternit asbestos factory. Separated by distances great and small, campaigners for asbestos justice sent tributes to show their solidarity with their Italian allies. Opening the proceedings, Mayor Concetta Palazzetti referenced the global solidarity on display at the front of the chamber and named the associations from Latin America, Asia, Australia and Europe which had sent messages of support. [Read full article]

Sep 10, 2016

Today, the community of Casale Monferrato, for decades the symbol of the struggle for asbestos justice, will mark a landmark event with the dedication of a park built on the infamous site of the Eternit asbestos cement factory. The Eternot Park is not only a memorial to the asbestos dead but also a symbol of a future which can be free of the deadly dust. Campaigning groups from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia have sent a statement – the English version of which is text of this article – with floral tributes expressing solidarity and support for the victims, the activists and the community. (Click here for Italian version.) [Read full article]

Aug 23, 2016

This article by Canadian ban asbestos campaigner and human rights activist Kathleen Ruff puts into context the news that consultations are ongoing regarding a change in Canada’s asbestos policy which could soon make the use, import and sale of asbestos-containing products illegal. According to an adviser to Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott, members of the Trudeau Government are working on drafting a new asbestos policy for Canada, which, it is expected, will, after more than a 100 years, end the country’s love affair with asbestos. Ruff hopes that measures to ban asbestos and protect Canadians from hazardous exposures will be announced when Parliament reconvenes in September 2016. [Read full article]

Aug 22, 2016

Although asbestos has been banned from ships since July 2002, it is still found in over 90% of ships. It is disturbing to learn, from this article by John Chillingworth, that asbestos has been found in over 80% of new ships, even though the shipbuilders have declared the ships to be asbestos free. Chillingworth’s company has found as much as 15% asbestos in materials that have been declared asbestos free in China. Shipyard declarations, which are accepted by the authorities, are often inaccurate as a result of which hazardous exposures continue to occur aboard vessels. Recommendations are made by the author as to how shipowners might take action to remedy this dangerous situation. [Read full article]

Aug 15, 2016

Responding to concerns raised by a coalition of civil society groups disturbed about the possibility of UK imports of asbestos-containing building materials from China, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has taken preliminary action to ascertain whether or not the products used and practises followed by Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd. are in compliance with national legislation. Welcoming the steps taken by the HSE, which are detailed in an email dated August 11, 2016, asbestos victims, trade unionists and campaigners have reiterated the need for the HSE to act decisively to ensure that British workers and members of the public are not exposed to illegal asbestos imports. [Read full article]

Aug 4, 2016

Shankar Dattaray Jog, a former worker at a factory owned by the British asbestos conglomerate Turner & Newall Ltd. in Mumbai, India, died from asbestos cancer on July 19, 2016. Mr. Jog had been employed at the Hindustan Ferodo brake linings factory for 40 years. By the time he retired in 2001, he had risen to the position of health inspector. While it is believed that others from Hindustan Ferodo could have contracted mesothelioma, their names are not known. Mr. Jog was adamant that the case against his former employer proceed in order to provide support for his family after he was gone and hope for others who succumb to asbestos illnesses after decades of dedicated service. [Read full article]

Aug 2, 2016

On July 21, 2016, the news finally came. Italy’s Constitutional Court issued its ruling in the long-running battle to achieve justice for Italy’s asbestos victims. The verdict gave the green light for a second round of legal proceedings (Eternit BIS) against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, former owner of the Swiss Eternit asbestos group. The case will now be returned to the Turin court where an investigating magistrate will consider the Public Prosecutors’ accusations regarding hundreds of asbestos deaths in Casale Monferrato and other Italian cities. After decades of broken promises and shattered expectations, asbestos victims and the groups representing them have been given hope that justice will be done. [Read full article]

Jul 27, 2016

A review of the 100th issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter (BAN), a quarterly periodical which has for over 25 years chronicled a wide range of UK asbestos developments, has been undertaken by Australian Professor Jock McCulloch, author of key asbestos books including: Defending the Indefensible and Asbestos – It’s Human Cost. Having discussed some of the subjects covered in the 100 issues of the BAN, McCulloch concludes: “The Newsletter has been an important forum for discussion and a reliable source of information… it has also helped to bring together the disparate groups which make up the ban asbestos front.” The commemorative edition should, he said, be celebrated. [Read full article]

Jul 27, 2016

A coalition of UK groups representing asbestos victims, trade unionists, medical professionals and health and safety campaigners have today issued a press release questioning whether Yuanda (UK) Co. Ltd., a Chinese-owned company, is illegally importing asbestos-containing building materials into the UK. Yuanda UK is part of the same industrial conglomerate as Yuanda Australia; the latter company is being investigated over the import and use of asbestos-containing products at construction sites throughout Australia. UK construction workers already face a higher risk of contracting asbestos diseases than most other workers so any increase in exposure to asbestos products would be of particular danger to them. [Read full article]

July 6, 2016

From Glasgow to Portsmouth, from Swansea to Gateshead via the Isle of Man, Sheffield and Birmingham, events were held throughout the UK on July 1, 2016 to observe Action Mesothelioma Day 2016. The extent and diversity of the activities marking the 11th national mesothelioma day underscored the growth in support for those suffering from a supposedly “rare” disease which nevertheless caused 7,398 deaths between 2011 and 2013. With an increasing number of events and extensive media coverage, it is evident that support for this day of action is growing stronger every year as is the determination of advocates to achieve medical progress and substantive breakthroughs for all the injured. [Read full article]

Jun 21, 2016

Children and staff from six local schools took part in an asbestos awareness workshop organized by a local campaigning body, the Asbestos Interest Group (AIG), in collaboration with partnering organizations on South Africa’s Youth Day (June 16). Feedback from participants has been positive with children having enjoyed meeting up with pupils from other schools to learn about the impact of asbestos contamination on their towns. A report written by AIG’s Prudence Kotoloane is informative as well as inspiring containing details of measures undertaken to keep children “awake and energetic.” The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat was proud to be a co-sponsor of this and other events organized by the AIG. [Read full article]

Jun 20, 2016

A high incidence of asbestos-related disease has been recorded amongst military and civilian workforces at shipyards in England, Scotland, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and other countries. In August 1945, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Factories A. W. Garrett was so concerned about the consequences of asbestos use in the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries that he wrote a letter to industry stakeholders in which he stated: “while asbestos dust may not have any apparent effects at first, experience shows that, particularly if the workers are exposed to the dust in substantial concentrations, serious results are apt to develop later.” The contents of Garrett’s letter were shared with vested interests in the UK and abroad. [Read full article]

Jun 13, 2016

A significant landmark has been reached with the distribution this month of the 100th issue of the British Asbestos Newsletter, a publication which has over the last 25 years become a national resource for asbestos victims, campaigners, legal experts, professionals and concerned citizens. The 24 chapters in the commemorative edition, which have been authored by leading stakeholders amongst the UK community of asbestos activists, highlight the efforts that have been made to secure the human and legal rights of asbestos victims and signpost measures for achieving future victories. The image on the cover has been designed by world renowned artist Conrad Atkinson. [Read full article]

May 25, 2016

Nepal is the first country in South Asia to ban the import, sale, distribution and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-containing products with the exception of asbestos-containing brake shoes and clutch plates. Although the prohibitions came into force on June 20, 2015, government data shows that the import of banned asbestos and asbestos-containing products continues. Attempts by a civil society organization in Nepal – the Center for Public Health and Environmental Development – to monitor the situation and implement measures to enforce these regulations are discussed in this article. [Read full article]

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Demonstration in Woluwe Park, Brussels, 2006

Under cloudy skies, members of Belgian and French Asbestos Victims' Associations from Dunkirk and Bourgogne marched side-by-side in the third annual demonstration organized by ABEVA, the Belgian Association of Asbestos Victims. Erik Jonckheere, ABEVA's Co-chairman, condemned the government which still refuses to recognize the plight of the asbestos injured.

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Asbestos Trade Data (2014)

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